This illustrates how a team might use a more defensive formation in defense (in this case a 4-3-1) and adapt it to be more attacking when it is going forward. Here, when a team is defending, they play 4 at the back with 3 midfielders sitting in fairly central positions. However, when defense turns into attack, two of the midfielders look to provide width in attacking positions, making a front three, whilst the full-backs step up into midfield to provide support from behind.

If you have the time to be able to get strategies like this across, it can be a more effective way of playing than just setting one particular formation to use throughout the whole match.

The 4-3-1 is also popular, especially with those who have an eye on developing a team for the 11-a-side game:

A more defensive alternative to the 2-4-2. With three at the back this provides a solid structure to build forward from. It can  easily be adapted into a more attacking 3-2-3 by pushing the wingers forward.

+ A more defensive version of the 3-2-3, but allows the midfield 4 to transition forward quickly – benefits a strong midfield that likes to attack.
+ Less reliance on the wide midfielders to drop back into the defensive unit, therefore tactically simpler.
+ A strong midfield unit that is not likely to be overrun.

– Forward could become isolated up front if there is not enough support.


The width comes from the full-backs who are crucial to this formation. Overlapping fullbacks allows lots of players to get forward when attacking.

+ Full-backs can form a unit of 4 at the back to help cover opposition wingers.
+ Ideal for fast full-backs who can quickly turn defense into attack
+ Two attacking midfielders can combine with the striker centrally, with width coming from the full-backs. Many options when going forward.

– If the full-backs do not attack, this could be too defensive.
– Defensive midfielder needs to be aware to cover when teammates go forward.

4-3-1 defensive


2-3-3 offensive

9V9 Formations

+ Strong spine to the team throughout midfield
+ Packed midfield makes them difficult to play through.
+ Attacking midfielder can be given a free-role, taking up spaces that the opposition struggle to deal with.

– Requires tactically disciplined wide midfielders and defensive midfield to provide defensive cover
– Possible lack of width

Combining These Formations


This allows a great deal of flexibility, and if your players are tactically aware, this could be a great option for you.

+ Provides a lot of flexibility – 4 in the midfield play a number of ways to support either defense or attack
+ Provides width from 2 wide players.

– Midfield players need to be tactically aware of when and how to support the defense
– Requires two strong defenders who can organize support from the midfield when needed.

There are no right or wrong formations. We have included some of the more common ones used around the world. Systems and formations require patience and players need time to learn their roles.  Good luck!




+ Attacking formation with flexibility.
+ Good balance between defense and offense with width going forward.
+ A solid three-player defensive structure.

– Attacking players need to track-back to help defend.
– Possibility of being over matched in the center midfield. If the two central midfielders are weak, or do not receive enough support.